Thomas Schaller

Thomas F. Schaller is an associate professor of political science at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and author of The Stronghold: How Republicans Captured Congress but Surrendered the White House.

Recent Articles


With all due respect to Time's Ana Marie Cox and AP’s Nedra Pickler -- or for that matter, Obama campaign manager David Plouffe's strategic plan, as reported by Pickler and blogged by Cox -- I must rudely note that there are a few of us, particularly many western Democrats, who have been saying for years now that there are ways to get to 270 by starting more or less with the John Kerry -won states and building out from there, and yes, even without either Florida or Ohio. In the afterword to the paperback edition of Whistling Past Dixie , written almost a year ago and published in January before we knew the nominee, I identified five paths to get to 270. Single-shot wins in either Ohio or Florida are just two, but three others without OH or FL include the “southwest passage” of 19 electors from the three, non-Arizona Southwest states, and two variations on what I call the “36th parallel” strategy involving Virginia, Kentucky, Missouri and West Virginia. (Arguably, Hillary Clinton would...


Joe Lieberman is really pushing his luck lately. It’s clear he’s still bitter about being defeated by Ned Lamont in the 2006 democratic primary in Connecticut, and that he enjoys rubbing the Democrats’ noses in his victory as an independent in the general election (which he has the luxury of doing in a 51-49 Senate Democratic majority that depends on his vote). Two recent pieces -- one by Andrew Miga of the Associated Press and another by National Journal’s Matthew Berger -- follow Lieberman-the-apostate on and off the campaign trail. What’s clear is that the only thing more sufferable than Lieberman right now will be Lieberman this November if John McCain wins. But if Barack Obama wins and Senate majority leader Harry Reid nets three or four Senate seats, the Sanctimonious Sourpuss of the Senate is heading for a world of irrelevancy. And not a moment too soon. --Tom Schaller


Barack Obama gave a great, Father’s Day-themed speech yesterday. Parts of it were politically easy, such as his entreaties about parental responsibility; you could easily imagine some of the words coming from the pen of conservative culture warriors. But what was impressive is how Obama linked personal responsibility—a theme Bill “end of government as we know it” Clinton used to catapult himself nationally—directly and unapologetically to government responsibility, as in this key section: [O]ur young boys and girls see…when you are ignoring or mistreating your wife. They see when you are inconsiderate at home; or when you are distant; or when you are thinking only of yourself. And so it’s no surprise when we see that behavior in our schools or on our streets. That’s why we pass on the values of empathy and kindness to our children by living them. We need to show our kids that you’re not strong by putting other people down – you’re strong by lifting them up. That’s our responsibility...


National polls as charted here by Real Clear Politics show Barack Obama holding a consistent if small lead in head-to-head pairings against John McCain . In the 19 most current polls going back to the beginning of May, Obama was ahead in 18 and tied in the 19th. Going further back to the beginning of April he led in 29 polls, was tied in five, with McCain leading in just three. Four caveats, all but one of which merit caution for Democrats: It’s early. Mike Dukakis was crushing George H. W. Bush in the early summer of 1992 and we all know how that turned out. Though lately he does seem to be gaining some distance in the aftermath of his primary victory, Obama’s leads are often within the margin of error There may be a social desirability effect here in which respondents are telling pollsters they are voting for Obama when they ultimately will not. Finally, and this may work against McCain, these are head-to-head matchups that ignore the possibility of former Republican congressman-...


Holy smokes: Why is Barack Obama under-selling the notion of “ Bush’s third term” when he rightly can and should be selling it as a third “ Bush-Cheney term”?! Go read this post from Matt Corley at Think Progress for all the frightening details. --Tom Schaller